Sir -- John-Paul McCarthy's hagiography of King George VI (Sunday Independent, January 16, 2011), seems at odds with a very real human being who was noted for having a short fuse. On a state visit to South Africa in 1947, a local tribal leader tried to mount the rear of the open car carrying the royal family. King George got up and repeatedly slapped the hand of the African thinking that he was some sort of deranged terrorist!
In fact, all the man wanted to do was give Princess Elizabeth a small present. Today the incident would be a public relations disaster but in those balmy days it never got a mention in the British press.
Finally, Mr McCarthy's allegation that Maud Gonne "had no real heart" is an amazing comment by an historian. Of course, as an ardent republican Maud Gonne would not have approved of the film, but she was presented at court as a debutante and curtsied to the monarch of the day. Who knows what emotions a film such as The King's Speech would have aroused in that great old lady? After all, her autobiography was called A Servant of the Queen.
Muswell Hill, London